BERKELEY -- Cal underachieved in the eyes of its players, its athletic director and its fans.
The school fired men's basketball coach Ben Braun on Wednesday following another disappointing season.
Braun spent 12 years at Cal and made the NCAA Tournament five times. But the Bears only went to the tournament once over his final five seasons, leading to the decision by athletic director Sandy Barbour.
She met Wednesday morning with Braun, who then met with eight players from the team in the locker room afterward with the news.
Barbour, too, talked to as many players as she could considering some had already left town for spring break. She said her decision was made this week after evaluating the program over the course of the season.
"Ultimately, the bottom line is we just didn't win enough basketball games," Barbour said. "I believe this is a very talented team and I believe they underperformed. ... It concerns me not to put the student-athletes in position to have outrageous success."
Former Modesto Christian High stars Richard Midgley and David Paris played for Braun, and current MC senior D.J. Seeley will be at Cal next year, but Seeley will be playing for a new coach.
Cal finished ninth in the Pac-10 this season, going 17-16 overall and just 6-12 in league despite a talented roster that included likely future NBA players Ryan Anderson, DeVon Hardin and Patrick Christopher.
The Bears had the youngest roster in the Pac-10 -- with two seniors and no active juniors -- and made the NIT, where they were knocked out in the second round by Ohio State on Monday. They struggled all season to play solid defense and that led to losing lots of close games.
"I was speechless, shocked, kind of numb in a way," forward Jamal Boykin said. "I heard all the rumors. I understand, but I think it's unfortunate because he's put together a really good system."
Braun leaves Cal with a 219-154 record at the school. His most successful season was his first after taking over when former coach Todd Bozeman was found to have paid $30,000 to the father of a former player. The Bears went 23-9 in 1996-97 and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
Cal won the NIT in 1999 and made three consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament from 2001-03, before struggling in recent years as other conference programs improved. Cal placed eighth or ninth in the Pac-10 three of the last four years.
"I'd like to thank the Cal community for 12 great years of support," Braun said in a statement. "I've had the privilege to coach at one of the top universities in the country, and I'm proud of the program we've built."
According to terms of the most recent contract extension that went through the 2010-11 season, Braun is due a $985,000 buyout.